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2011: A great year to choose to live tobacco-free!

Ready or not, the new year is rapidly approaching, and with the new year comes the time to set new health-related goals and resolutions. What will your health-related goals be for 2011?

We suggest that a worthy goal would be to live tobacco-free in 2011. Consider for a moment the reasons.

1. Tobacco causes death and disability:The World Health Organization has identified tobacco as the single greatest cause of death and disability in the world. In the United States alone,a bout 450,000 deaths per year are caused by tobacco-related diseases. Heart disease, stroke, lung disease, and a number of types of cancers are caused by tobacco.

2. Cigarette smoking is still a very common addiction:About one in five Americans smoke cigarettes on a regular basis.

3. Smoking is an expensive addiction.

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4. Tobacco is among the strongest addictions known to man, a fact that tobacco companies understand and accentuate for their financial gain.

5. While challenging for many people, it is possible to quit smoking.Now, more than ever before, there are effective methods to help someone stop smoking. It’s never too late to quit, nor is it ever too early to quit either! If you, a family member, a friend, or a co-worker is a smoker, now is a perfect time to quit!

How does one quit smoking?

Step 1: Make the decision to quit.The desire to quit is the first and most important step in stopping smoking.

Step 2: Make a plan.Set a date to quit—your own personal "D Day" (discontinuation day). This should be a date in the near future, no longer than three to four weeks in the future, perhaps on an important date, such as an anniversary or a holiday. As you work up to that date, identify and plan to overcome any challenges to your plan to quit smoking. If you have friends who smoke, for example, take the time to tell them that you plan to quit and that you need their help to do so. It may surprise you, but your friends are probably interested in quitting smoking as well and may even join you on your "D Day!"

Step 3: Get some help. If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to quit smoking, seek out help from a trained medical professional. They can help you decide if you need medication to help you quit smoking. Ask for help from others around you, particularly those who have already quit smoking themselves. Your chances of quitting smoking improve as you have supportive people around you .

Step 4: Don’t give up!Keep at your goal to quit smoking, even if you happen to slip up momentarily and smoke a cigarette. The grip of tobacco is strong, but with hard, consistent, and persistent work you can defeat your dependency on cigarettes and live tobacco free.

We invite you to make the decision now to take the steps necessary for you, your family, friends, and co-workers to live tobacco free in 2011. Your health and your wallet will benefit as a result!

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